Monday, April 11, 2011

Letter to our daughter's birth mother... found on the internet

I found this letter on a site with adoption stories... it did not include the author's name so I want to give reference to the author and just inserted Tya's name... I think it is a beautifully written letter that so aptly describes the emotions we have adopting Tya and having her in our lives.

"First let me say how sorry I am that you had to go through the unimaginable pain of being separated from your daughter. Although I’ll never know the circumstances surrounding you placing her in an orphanage, it must have nearly crushed you. You are incredibly brave.

_____Tya Lihui___, that’s the name we’ve given her, is a beautiful little girl. She’s quick with a smile and a hug; there may be nothing better than feeling her little arms trying to reach around me with a squeeze.

We think of __Tya________ not just in terms of my wife and me, but also of you. We know that our little girl is also your little girl.

Our daughter is perfect in every way. She’s beautiful and smart. She loves to laugh. She eats everything in sight and gives us big open mouthed kisses with a delayed smooch.

I wish you could see how happy she is.

We talk of you often. Every morning, when she wakes, and every night when we put her down, we stop to say hello to China on the giant world map hanging in her room.

When I stop and watch __Tya______ asleep in her crib, content sucking her thumb, safe and warm, I think about you. I often wonder what you look like-- mostly when I try to imagine what
__Tya_____ will look like when she’s grown.
I know it’s unlikely, but I can’t help but wonder if we might have seen you when we were traveling in China.—I wonder if you were one of the young women who watched us drive by. Most people we met were full of smiles, but it was easy to tell that the sight of these babies on their way made some sad.

I wanted to jump out of our van and talk to people on the street to ask if someone might know our little girl’s birthmother. Maybe they knew her family, a sister or a cousin.

Maybe they could pass along a message to you. To let you know that our little girl will always love you. That we will support her and respect her and teach her everything we can about China. That we’ll teach her that a woman’s life is every bit as important as a man’s and how important it is to respect yourself.

Maybe they could also pass along our thanks to you. It may seem selfish for us to say thank you, but you made the ultimate sacrifice and we couldn’t imagine our lives if you hadn’t. You gave up everything when you gave up your daughter for adoption. You gave up a lifetime of hugs and smiles…the very least we can do is say thank you. Thank you for our little girl."

Monday, February 28, 2011

PEI-China Adoption Group Chinese New Year Feb 13

Tya is 8 months old in this pic.. and 2 months exactly from Gotchya day :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Half The Sky

Check this out... I think this is a great organization doing great things.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nanchang, JiangxiMommies and babies

Me and Tya, Grace and Wendy, Cara and Julia, and Marina and Emery
xo... we love you Spicy Girls
At the airport...last stop before leaving China, and going to our different terminals.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chinese Tree Decorating

Thanks Sheri Lee, Mom, Tara, Rod, Dante, Aaron and Dad
xo... beautiful and unique tree just like all of you!


Jen's Reflection

Well, I just put Tya down for a second time tonight. It is quiet in the house so it felt like a good time to reflect on the past three weeks... and five years. I have been so grateful that Jeff has blogged for me while we were in China.... but, I missed it. He tells me that he loved blogging and I could tell. He is a wonderful story teller and has such humour and description in his writing. I was able to hold and feed Tya while he blogged and the other two girls were sleeping or watching movies. It made the most sense and I really felt like I needed every second to hold Tya, feed her, and be there with her. We have been so blessed to have her home with us at the age of 6 months and before Christmas, I cannot say enough good things about our agency FOI. They really go above and beyond for families and babies. Bob and Yulin are so simply amazing!

So, what a journey! A five year journey that began with a pull on my heart string, or red thread should I say. When a co-worker and friend brought home her darling Chloe from China. Holding her in my arms and hearing her story just touched me so emotionally there was no doubt I needed to go to China, that a very special baby was there for me. I looked over at another dear friend and co-worker, Carolyn, and I think we read each other's minds before we said anything, we were feeling the same thing. And so began the emotional rollercoaster. Carolyn and I both went home to tell our husbands what we both felt we were destined to do. Carolyn and I had big plans, we would go together and be there for each other if we started the process at the same time. Jeff was reluctant at first though. He wanted to adopt aboriginal babies before we had ever had any children...before he had met me. This was what he felt called to do and so he really could not see this as the path for us. I was so disappointed, he was so adament and I understood his need as an aboriginal person to give a good home to an aboriginal child especially as he was raised on the reserve by his grandmother until he was 13. I still think he longs to adopt an aboriginal baby... so time will tell. I was reflecting on this because the years we have waited have not been easy and the surreal component of this amazing journey to bring home a daughter was even more difficult for Jeff along the way... whereas it was more surreal and difficult to me in the days and moments just before we held her. As Jeff said while we were in China, for him he just could not envision it until we were actually there. There were many times over the last five years we both had to create coping mechanisms...I had to not talk to Jeff about the adoption at drove him crazy and he thought I was obsessed. I had to stop going to china-adopt functions because it made me too sad. There were times I had to fight for us to continue in the process and not change our course due to finances or life changes. I think it is important to know that the wait was not easy... but that it was SO worth it. It is worth the fight, the frustration at times, and the worry at others. It is no different than any other important moment in your life.

So... the years went by and then it felt like all of a sudden we were next to go to China. It was a whirlwind... Jeff was worried about money and could not believe I had done this to him, which he quickly got over after dinner with some of his good friends to whom I will always be grateful for calming him down and reassuring him. When I got home he had noodles and chopsticks waiting for me for supper and a hug telling me he was ok now, it is just that I think with my heart and he with his head and he is constantly worried about finances (largely because I don't and because he grew up with so little). Then it was crazy... finishing up work, mountains of paperwork, getting expired passports done, phone calls with everyone that works at FOI for travel, paperwork, visas, you name it. We had to get needles done at the travel clinic and we had packing to do. On top of that, Christmas was coming and we would return Christmas Eve day... so there were a few things I needed to do before I went... and the rest Bob assured me could be done in China.

Travelling with a three and a half year old can be challenging, but we really felt that as we might not get home for Christmas we would rather her with us, although my mom really wanted us to leave her with her. Mom was so worried and I can appreciate that fear. We also felt that it was important for the girls to all bond together right away, if Kennah was any younger we may not have been so brave, but there was no doubt in Savannah's mind she was coming. She gave up going to France for financial reasons...and she turned 16 in China ... a world away from her friends to be there for Tya.

I am going to skip a lot of the details of the trip as I could never do as well as Jeff so aptly described... the people, the place, the flight, the food, the journey. I think you also get a pretty god idea of how much Jeff immersed himself in the process. He was a proud daddy from the minute he saw her. I love to watch Jeff walk around holding Tya in his arms, chest swelled out or carrying Kennah on his shoulders for hours, even climbing the Great Wall. In these moments I love him more deeply than ever. He loves his girls of this there is no doubt. I know that he now understands why we had to do this... he feels, as I do, that Tya was meant to be part of our lives and part of our family. I am so grateful for this.

The day we went to go to Nanchang where Tya was... in the province of Jiangxi... was a rainy wet day. We had just landed in Beijing the night before... were told we would be picked up early the next morning and taken back to the airport to fly to Nanchang. I have to say the surrealness of all this, having to focus on my other children and the feeling of just being on a trip or sightseeing tour was what I was feeling. I so wanted to be feeling the emotions I thought I would... Cara (one of the mom's I met)had tears in her eyes and she was there in the moment and so I gravitated toward her wanting to feel it too... we discovered we were both "blue" (emotionally driven people). When we landed in Nanchang, Mary our guide, told us we would be getting our babies right away, before we checked in... she gave us our room key, said we would get our babies, have an hour to feed them or less and to go across the road for paperwork. This threw me for a loop. I thought we would be getting settled and organized first and then going to get our babies across the road together. But, no our babies were there and waiting for us and our Tya had been there since the morning she said. Cara was shouting Wahoo, Randy was saying are we there yet (just a few times, right Randy? lol) and I was saying pinch me this feels like a dream... I have very little recollection of how we got to the room... thank goodness Savannah was on the video camera duty) ... and then she was there... I loved her... I loved her when she was just a dream and I loved her now in her realness and then she looked deep in my eyes and I held her and she continued to look deep in my eyes. She is amazing, she is beautiful, she is the one we have been waiting for... and she was so worth the wait and all the labour pains along the way. I cannot describe how I felt in that moment...she was so calm and sweet. She just connected with my soul the minute she looked in my eyes and she was ours. I cannot describe the emotions of that day or that moment... it is more than I ever thought possible and so very like the moments Savannah and Kennah came into the world.

She is the sweetest little doll... we got to know her over the two weeks there as a family. How she loves to be held, fed, loves to lick things (mostly my cheek and her blanket), how she crosses her fingers and sucks on them, how she is so serious and how sweet her little smile is with one little dimple below her mouth on her left side. How she chews on her bottom lip and makes the sweetest cooing noises. She is so tiny wearing either 3 months or 3-6 months clothing and she is so adorable I just want to kiss her, nuzzle her, cuddle her, hold her and touch her. We all work so hard to make her laugh and it is the sweetest sound. She likes her bottle warm and to feel you blow on her toes... she loves a massage with cream and even fell asleep one day while I was massaging her.

The day we left Nanchang was sunny... after a surprising 2 days snow storm, which prevented us from visiting the orphanage unfortunately. As we were driving to the airport... Jeff made the connection... that is was raining when we got there because we did not have her yet and sunny as we were leaving as she was now with us.

The next few days are all recorded in Jeff's writing, we continued to hold Tya and marvel at her. Marvel at how seemlessly she fit our family... marvel at the fact that like Savannah said on the plane ride home "it feels like we cannot imagine a time without her in our family"... marvel at this extraordinary part of our lives that seems dreamlike and yet so real. We feel so very blessed and I am amazed at the way it all turned out... I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I knew we were meant to follow this path, that we had to stay true to our course and that the heart that was pulling me on the other end of that red string... that very long five year but strong red thread was our little girl... and I am so grateful, I feel so blessed... I have no words to describe it, just overwhelming emotion.

I did want to add a special thank you to everyone who came to the airport... I was so very touched as it was Christmas eve morning and so I had no expectations for anyone but my family to be there... I know how busy it is on that day... so to see you there with tears in your eyes, memories of other journeys flooding other people's eyes, and the love we felt touched us deeply. It meant so very much and you are all such special people. Carolyn... words cannot express what a dear friend you have been for me throughout these five years and you know probably better than anyone what it was like and have been there for me through it all. A special thank you for my family that cleaned my house, decorated for Christmas (you have to see the special Chinese flair my sister thought to add to my tree), and welcomed us with our house totally ready for a new baby and Christmas... You are all amazing and I feel so lucky! Thank you to my Dad for sleeping at my house every night and fixing up the things that needed fixing... thank you Mom, Sherilee, Rodney, Tara, Dante, Aaron for all the work you did to make our home ready. We are so fortunate to have you as family.

Gan bei!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Jeff's last blogging

Day 6 Part 2

OMG Massage
I forgot to tell you that our day 6 also ended with Jen, Savvy and I all getting ½ hour massages; which can only be described as wonderful. All three of us raved about how good they were and how great we felt afterward. I laughed through most of mine as this little woman, maybe 5’2, was able to put me in such a world of hurt. There was nothing to her but man she was strong. We may have to do that again before our 17 hour journey home.

Day 7

The Great Wall is Great
Well that title kind of gave what this addition to the blog is about! Yes today was our adventure to the Great Wall of China and it truly is a wonder to behold.  This thing is massive and long … and massive and can only truly be appreciated in person. More on that in a minute.

Jade Factory…or should I say “Jeff, where’s your wallet?”

Our day started out like most here in China, rushing to get breakfast and meet the group for the day’s activities. Today was another early start as everyone was on the bus and ready to go at 9. Our first stop, in case you hadn’t guessed, was the Jade Factory which was an amazing and costly part of our tour, don’t worry no one broke anything.  The tour is a bit hard to recap as the Chinese tend not to speak very loudly and combined with the accent and Kennah’s need to wander (in a China type shop no less) left me unable to hear much.  The guide went over the cultural significance of Jade, its different forms, qualities and of course cost.  A real surprise that the higher quality stuff is more expensive. This factory was as much an art gallery as much as it was a jewelry store.  The ability of the artisans to work with the stone and turn it into some truly incredible pieces of art is mind blowing. The detail, the creativity and the beauty of the work were difficult to imagine but easy to appreciate.

When the info session ended we were free to wander around the some 5,000 square foot shop, no surprise that Savvy, K and I headed to look at the carvings and discount section while Jen stayed in the “High Quality” section, yes that was the actual name of the section. Did I forget to mention that that was where the info session on Jade took place? I’m sure that was nothing more than coincidence. Jen, of course, was trapped in this area as she just said me “the lady would not let me leave, she just kept slipping bracelets on my arm”. Funny how that works really, the power of a sales person the “trap” a woman like my wife in the “High Quality, need to take a second mortgage on my house”, area of a jewelry store. Kind of like a man in the electronic section of store…I guess.

When all was said and done, damage was done, not just by Jen however, oh no, for whatever reason my soon to be sixteen year daughter suddenly began to take on some personality traits of her mother, although she does not yet have the look down yet, she was none the less convincing.  Kennah is a natural shopper, she really didn’t even ask to buy things, she just went about buying as if me carrying her on my shoulders was some sign of my subservience to her, I’m going to half to watch that but I’m thinking it is already too late. The only one who didn’t directly get in on the buying was Tya, however given her rapidly emerging personality; I’m in for a world of financial hurt, time to start selling the blood!!

Now the Great Wall

How much can one really say about one of the greatest man made creations on the planet.  It is truly awe-inspiring and a marvel to behold.  It is impossible to comprehend how an ancient civilization can build such a miraculous monument without any or our modern day tools. We had 2 choices in tackling our hour and a half time at the Wall, the left (the hard way) and the right (the easy). Given that I was carrying 35 or so extra pounds, and no I have not gained that much weight in China, I don’t think, I am referring to my 3 yr old princess who demands to ride everywhere perched on my shoulders, we decided to tackle the “easy” way. Now the word “easy” is subjective really, baking a cake is easy for some and difficult to others, its easy to spend money but much more difficult to make it; thus, I would say that in this the right looked easy but was far from it.

Almost immediately you go up the often-uneven walk way (Aaron help me out here) of the Wall as you start your trek. Centuries old construction built on the backs and lives of ordinary Chinese, as solid as the time it was built, supports the throngs of people going up and down its sold backbone. The atmosphere is one of wonder, laughter and simple silence as people walk and absorb the magnitude of this tribute to ingenuity commitment and realistically slavery. The wind is harsh as we climb toward the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th towers. As about half of our group has chosen the aforementioned easy route, we stick together and support one another on the climb. On the way to the 4th tower I have to push ahead as the climb becomes much steeper (and that’s saying something) and the added weight of Kennah on my shoulders is starting to take its toll. Once we reach tower 4, we look back, the wind almost knocking K on her butt and back down the Wall it is so strong.  Savvy is helping everyone whom needs it make it to the next destination. The wind is so strong it takes your breath away but it does not faze how surreal the moment is as you look down and see both where you started and how incredibly far you could yet go.

The stop at tower 4 proves to be the turn back or forge ahead decision point for everyone. Making it this far is no easy feat, especially when 2 of our party (Jen and Marina) were carrying their new babies. Savvy and I peer up, and I mean up, to the next tower and decide we have to go for it and of course Kennah is along for the ride if for no other reason than it would be to difficult for Jen to make the decent with her. The journey to tower 5 was both amazing and exceptionally grueling. Now I ain’t one for angles but this section of the Wall was anywhere between 60 and 85 degrees for at least ¾ of a kilometer. At times Savvy was behind me just in case I needed a push in order to take the next step. From top to bottom and what seemed to be a 100 people wanting to either take pictures with us or of us we finally made it to the 5th tower and while we were eager to attack the next level, we knew the added weight of K and time did not make if feasible.  With that said we did take a picture of the 3 of us at the highest point of our trip to the Great Wall.  We decided to make our decent along a path at the base of the Wall to get a better perspective of what an invading force would have to endure and it is no wonder that the Chinese were able to hold off hostile forces for centuries.

Outside of Jen haggling with vendors at the base of the wall the rest of the day was peaceful and filled with a much slower pace. A late lunch-early supper at another factory, metal maybe, some more shopping (a theme that would begin to dominate in the days to come, and back to the hotel. The ride back saw both our youngest ladies fall asleep and the route take us by the 2008 Olympic Aquatic Centre and the Birds Nest, further testament of the ongoing Chinese desire to push the bounds of architecture and engineering. Like the Great Wall and temples before them, the Chinese desire out do themselves with every building is one of the most striking things that I have found about our journey to this country.  The blend, clash and juxtaposition of everything here, weather it be the people, the economy, the architecture is fascinating to experience and move within. One can only wonder what the People and this country are capable of or will become in the next 50 years.

XO by 5    

Day 8

The Summer Palace

Day 8 and time seems to both fly and crawl as we experience the culture and history of the amazing country. The time we spent at attractions passes in the blink of an eye always trying to absorb as much as we can while here. On the flip side the longing for home and all the comforts it brings has us wishing we were already bound for the Great White North.  Today the main attraction is the Summer Palace, you know a place you can go in the summer kick up your heels and have servants wait on your every whim. Palaces different from your winter ones, in a place of you’re choosing and built solely because you want it. This place was massive, the summer home of “The Dragon Lady”, the brains and control behind the last emperor, or last several emperors of China…a wee bit of a B.I.T…well you get my drift. As much of a Dragon, which of course was not an affectionate term given to her by the people, as she was, she knew what she wanted and of course had the people she ruled over build it for her. You know, moving into the digs of another emperor is just not the thing to do; you want your own man made lake and private jail for you emperor nephew. To make a long story short, this place was massive with typically beautiful ancient Chinese architecture, paintings and an abundance of history.

The remainder of the day, which wasn’t much, was spent unwinding with a trip to the pool for K and I before another meal at a local restaurant. The end of the day and bed were welcome as we inch closer to going home, something everyone is looking forward to.
XO by 5

Day 9

The Silk Factory & Pearl Market…yep this is going to hurt the wallet and Happy Sweet 16 Savvy… are you okay?

Perhaps the day that most the women in the group have been looking forward to (outside getting our girls of course), and of course the men dreading. Our day was to consist of a visit to the aforementioned Silk Factory and Pearl Market, which are aptly named but consisted of so much more. The Silk Factory is a government owned institution that produces the finest silk products in the country, yah for communism. Like most other tours this one started off with an explanation of how silk is made and its connection to the culture of the People. Then, of course we were free to buy…which we did, a little something for everyone. Bedding, clothes and some of this and that making the wallet lighter as would be expected. This place had silk everything right down to the rugs. And boxers, not sure if Dave bought any but then again I have way to much info from him on the whole underwear topic…eh Dave LOL. We do have some dead silk bugs to show…if we can find them in our bags after we reach home.

The next stop was the Pearl Market where they of course sell pearls. Not much I can say on this as for the most part I stood outside with the girls while Jen was inside I can only assume trying on necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. As for her purchases well I’ll let her do show and tell, no since ruining the surprise, I understand you women folk like that sort of thing. As for the men and what I’m sure your wondering.. the damage wasn’t as bad as I had expected, then again we had only done one level of this 4 level shopping complex.

The Hagel

After a visit to the pearl store we were free…which is not even close to an appropriate adjective as nothing was free in this place, we began to tour the rest of the market. 4 levels of stores, the pearls being real the rest, ah, maybe not so much, all depends on what your definition of real is. Now this is a bargain hunters’ paradise, this place had everything you could possibly imagine at bargain basement prices…ya just had to work to get it. Haggling has never been my strong suit, truth be known I hate it, I’m more of a “just tell me the lowest price, save the dance and time and lets just move on”. As Jen can attest…and perhaps detest, I’m not much of a shopper either but I must say that the Pearl Market made shopping fun and we should adopt the practice for our stores in North America.  Perhaps if we adopt haggling then you would see more men shopping instead of sitting on the benches outside the store. Haggling is a sport, and the Chinese; especially the women make you earn the win. For being so tiny, man these women are strong, I mean they trap you in their little store and they are hard to move out of the way.  My technique simply involved pointing to another item and when they went to get it for me, I bolted out the door. My particular favorite exchange was with a short little women who said “frienda” (everyone is her friend), come now come now, you killing me, I need feed my family” to which I replied, “ ah you killing me, I need feed my family too” and for whatever reason yes I did speak in broken English for this exchange, I have no idea why but, when in Rome! By the end of the day Jen and I were working as a pretty good team as we would blame each other to get a lower price “my husband say no”…my wife say too much” and yes in broken English. Given the language barrier, I often resorted to caveman language to communicate, for example uuhh, ugh, and nnaa, came in very handy.

As you can see by the title, on this day Dec 21st, our oldest turned 16, which is both hard to believe and scary all at the same time. True to her form Savvy was a big help to everyone all day; holding this, picking up that and at the end of the day we celebrated with a birthday party and magic show…unfortunately she only made it 15 min into supper and never seen any magic or her cake as she was sick (we did want to say thanks again though to everyone and Yulin for all the special moments… the O’Reagan’s beautiful present and card, the inclusion of Savannah as a birthday girl and Randy for involving Kennah in the magic show…best part of the night for Kennah). Now I remember turning 16 and I was sick too, but her and I were sick for different reasons, as hers was not self-inflicted. Savvy and I spent a majority of her party outside with her getting sick. Now we had thought this was because of her sinuses and the dry hot rooms, however shortly getting on the bus to return to the hotel Kennah followed the same path as her big sister and threw up. Yes this was a sign of things to come as both girls got sick 3 more times through out the rest of the night, both in separate rooms and within 15 minutes of one another. It would appear that the same bug that had hit every other family since our arrival had hit Brant Family, save the Eele’s of course, they are obviously the heartiest stalks of the group. Tya was also sick, although hers was (is) a head cold, no less painful as the poor little thing could not sleep as her head was filled. So Ma and Pa Brant juggled 3 sick kids while running between all 3 and 2 rooms. Everyone settled around 3 and we managed to grab a few hours sleep.

Day 9


As a result of our previous day we decided that today would be our down day, a time to slow down, relax and get some rest.  Instead of going to visit Tieneime Square and the Forbidden City we stayed at the hotel. Jen, Tya and I did venture out for a couple of hours to do more shopping and get some fresh air that was actually fresh, except for the sewer smell. The coolness of the day kept the smog down so outside for the most part lacked that car exhaust fragrance.

All in all, a pretty slow day, Kennah and Jen did go to the acrobat show in the evening while Savvy, Tya and I stayed back to pack (Tya was not a big help, go figure). In the midst of one of her vomiting exercises, K commented that she really wanted to go see the acrobat show. As all three girls (which still sounds weird to say, although somehow natural) were feeling better and K had been good all day, we decided that she and Jen should go to the show. A little Kennah and mommy time was just the thing to end off our journey; something both enjoyed and will remember. K was spell bound by the show and one of the parents commented, “I don’t think she blinked during the whole thing”.

With a majority of the packing done, our sleep was pretty good as all were tired and looking forward to our return to the land we love so much, perhaps a little more given our time away and the differences between Canada and China.

Hope all is well, be home soon.

XO by 5

Day 10

Travel Day

Not much to say here, every airport looks the same and nothing will matter as long as we make it home and we pray for nothing eventful to happen. It is a long journey, but much like our journey to Tya, the reward will be worth everything.

XO by 5


I thought I’d end my blog experience with some reflections on our journey.

First off, we had always wondered why this process had taken so long given the need for good homes for these children. We know why as Tya is a perfect fit within our family and attachment to her has been no different, or any more lengthy, than that of our two other daughters. Perhaps it had taken so long because she was meant to be ours, as if The Fates in all their weaving of the infinite possibilities of time knew that this little creature would need us, a mother so full of love, sisters of heart and song, a family that needed her to add to their uniqueness, bringing her own flare to our tribe. She is indeed one of us.

The matching is incredible as each baby in our group was destined to be with the family they became a part of some 9 short days ago. Its funny how within 2 weeks people from different parts of the country can come together to form such a unique connection, a bond forged in a journey that has only just begun. From borrowing medicine  (thanks to all as I think we did most, if not all of the borrowing, free lobster dinners on us when you come to PEI), sharing tips, stories, birthdays and laughs it was truly a pleasure to meet such nice people. These 6 little girls and my main man Alex are so lucky to have the families they do and one can tell that the families feel the same way.   

China is truly a fascinating place for those who like history, culture and of course Chinese food and shopping. As with any country it is the People who make it great and while the sites were amazing and breathtaking, it was our guides who made China such a great experience. Mary, Vivian, and Faye were all great and Yulin (and Bob) of course orchestrating the entire journey made it all memorable. For all of its wonder, I am left to ponder the country’s sustainability. As someone who has worked in the field of socio-economics it is easy to see there will be a tipping point where the country, it’s People and it’s government will need to make some critical decisions. Their consumption of goods, the size of the population and its need for energy and its impact on the environment are all critical factors in the future of this massive expansive of a place. Things for greater minds than mine to contemplate for sure.

In the end Tya Li Hui Brant will never know the different life she will experience because of our coming into each other’s lives. Dave and I have had a few conversations over the past 10 days, which I have enjoyed deeply, about this topic. She will have choice, from the simplest of things to the most fundamental to a democracy.  Something that seems so simple to North Americans, often taken for granted, yet when you hear some of the experiences of our hosts, not so simple. Knowing what we know and the reality our girls come from will make us more vigilent to make sure all of our children fully understand just how lucky they are to be Canadian, to have due process, to have rights that are enshrined in laws and the ability to travel freely, become educated and ultimately decide what is best for themselves.

While the process, the waiting and the cost to get to where we now are is over; we are free to start the next stage of our lives as a family. We would all like to return some day, to explore further the wonders China holds, but that's for some time in the distant future. We leave with great memories, some great bargains, and new friends…no, they are more than friends; they are our relatives now; a family of sorts bonded in a shared meaningful and emotional experience… and a special little girl as a part of our family.

Take care, travel safe and be well.

XO by 5   

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tya Giggles

Jen wanted you to hear Tya's sweet giggles.  The source of the fun, big sister Savannah, turns Sweet Sixteen today...! xoxo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 6


I want to apologize for the huge gaps between the blogs but things have been so busy there seem to be no time and we are absolutely wiped by the end of the day. With that said and in order to catch up I am going to be brief with my comments, and for those laughing at my lack of ability to be brief, watch this!!

We packed all day. (see, how’s that for brief!)

Our first plane ride was an adventure as Tya had never flown and K was battling the onset of a cold, not a promising mixture. After problem with our tickets and almost missing the plane (good eye Savvy) the plane ride started out with a complete and utter meltdown of the two youngest members of our family. Both girls were crying and screaming, often looking at each other and screaming harder, perhaps a culmination of the pent up emotions from a very eventful week. With that said both rallied well and by mid flight both girls were in a much better place, calm  and happy.

A late arrival in Beijing, tired and wiry, both younger girls sleeping and off to bed for what would prove for yet another full nights sleep, no complaints here.

Hoping all is well,
XO by 5

Day 6

A summation of day 6 and that ought to catch us up:

<!Sleep in “woohoo”, both girls slept in till about 7:30…we however were up around 6:30 but just lazed in bed enjoying the calmness of the moment.
<!Air quality in Beijing sucks!!
<!Both girls wake up happy, although K’s cold is full blown now, poor kid.
<!-->Canadian citizenship paper work complete and Tya is one step closer to being a full-blown Canuck with all of the freedoms and privileges that brings. Truly a life changer for the little girl abandoned the day she was born.
<!-->Group picture, with all of the other families and we are off to the zoo!!
<!-->Impressions of the Beijing Zoo, built in 1905, poor sad animals, yuk popcorn, yum cotton candy, stinky monkeys, 2 bucks a ride, lots of ducks, stinky men’s washroom, a nice cold Chinese beer (seriously) for the ride home.
<!-->Picked up more supplies and treats, well really more treats than anything while K slept of her cold (about a 4 hour nap, much needed).
<!-->Jen, Tya and I had supper with the group while Savvy and K has a sister’s night in with pizza that Savvy and I picked up. Upon our return we found both girls cuddled up in the bed watching a movie. Pic’s will follow later of the 4 Brant women in the bed enjoying the movie.
<!-->The night ended with Tya fast asleep, Jen and K sharing some much needed cuddle time and Savvy and I watching a movie in the other room. Unable to stay awake I returned to our room to find Jen holding K, both sound asleep preparing for the trip to the Great Wall tomorrow.

2 is more than 1
Jen is fully immersed in her increased mommy role with cuddles, kisses and creams galore. While this experience with 2 little ones is a new one for us, we’re adjusting fairly well but will welcome an opportunity to settle in our familiar environment. While some say that we really have two families, what with a near 16 yr. old and all, we prefer to think of it as one, just a little spread out. Hard to believe that within the next couple of day we will have a 16 yr. old daughter, who, if this trip is any
 indication, we have raised right.  We cannot say enough about how great Savvy has been, a constant help and support and a great role model to her two younger sisters. We are truly blessed.

XO by 5…and yes that is brief for me!  


China...Day 5!

Day 5


On behalf of all of us we wanted to express our sincerest thanks for all the congrats, warm wishes and caring thoughts, they are all greatly appreciated and we cannot wait until we are home.

We See The Light!!

Yes its true, the sun came out today!! Talk about a welcome sight. The sun really allowed us to see how vast this city is, and it is stretching for as far as the eye can see.
Well, there is not much I can tell you about today as it involved shopping and that shopping may, or may not translate into gifts for the upcoming season. All I can say is that it is tied to the history and the culture of the People.

We did go to the “department store” as Mary described it, which I can only compare to Champlain Place x 12. 2 towers, 6 floors each, everything was here designer clothes, band names, gadgets, jewelry, you name it, they had it, all except the back pack I was looking for to carry K around, but more on that in a minute. Not many deals to be had and we only had about 2 hours with no damage done. With that said I ‘m sure if Jen was left alone with more time, and my wallet we would greatly exceed the allowed capacity with Air Canada. K and I ventured to see the fish in the grocery store while Jen and Savvy looked for supplies… interesting sights seen here… dead fish, one fish jumped out onto the floor and was plopped back in, and fish so big it was surprising they fit in the tank.

Our journey from the department store to the hotel really gave us a glimpse of real urban China as we got off of the main streets into the veins of the city. Much like the Grand Canyon, the buildings tower creating caverns in the city where the People conduct their business and live where they work.  Laundry hanging from every window, people bustling from shop to shop, with each shop owner trying to strike a deal with anyone and everyone, those buying and those not. I wouldn’t exactly describe them as “boutique shops” I can’t even really tell you what they were selling as every shop seem to sell everything, within a 5 feet wide by 10 feet long space. Mobile food venders are everywhere selling, what I’m pretty sure is food although I’m not adventurous enough to try …“Never eat street food”. It is amazing, every ally leads to another ally, some looking a little sketchier than others and each with something for sale. I must say the Chinese People are industrious and sell every means of everything.

3 Men…Alone…In Wal-Mart!!

On the way back to our hotel “we three men” decided to abandon the bus and head to Wal-Mart as each family needed some means of supplies, water, pablum, and underwear…don’t ask.  Our second venture to Wal-Mart was much the same as the first, times 10. More people, more noise, and more dead chickens. The search for recognizable turned out to be a little more fruitful than the first venture, a welcome victory. I personally enjoyed the walk home as this was really the closest I had gotten to being with and amongst the People…outside of playing frogger. We walked through the park dedicated to the revolution (1927) that had brought communism to China. A vast open expanse of a place with about a 8 story at one end. People filled the park just hanging out and flying kites enjoying the sun. A request for a picture with the “foreigners” and we proceeded back to the hotel. After seeing our first traffic light with walk/don’t walk (the walk light was a little green man with his legs going 100 miles an hour, which really translated into a “walk fast or get run over” message) we hit the street our hotel was on, about a 10-minute walk.  As I had said in the previous paragraph, the  People make a living selling anything. The streets themselves are a contrast, perhaps a sign a nation demonstrating it economic strength on one side while struggling to adjust on the other. What I mean by this is that the sidewalks are all polished stone and the shops are more in vastly worse condition.  The work, cost, and investment made in making the sidewalk shine has yet to translate into the store fronts on this street. The other memorable aspect of the walk was the toxic smell,  in what can only be described as a putrid combination sewer, exhaust, dank water, street food and fresh air, individual at times… melded at others.

A peaceful night with the family in prep for the plane ride tomorrow. At one part of the night K and Tya seem to carry on a conversations in their sleep with one making a little noise and the other responding. The went on for about 10 minutes with me try to control my laughter so as not to wake everyone up.

XO by 5

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Post #4 From China

Please note:  I'm putting up two posts at once, so don't forget to scroll down and read all about day 3 as well!  Oh, and I just noticed that Sheri Lee posted two videos!  Yay!  Scroll down to see those as well!

Day 4

Snow Storm
Yep that’s right a snowstorm in a part of the country that is supposed to be about 17 degrees this time of year.  Now of all the things we would like to have from home, snow is not one of them.  The day started off with freezing rain and quickly turned to snow with winds at about 50 km and in Nanchung, nothing clears the roads like a good old fashion snowstorm. I’d like to say the lack of traffic  made us feel safer on the roads, unfortunately snow in these parts is not a common occurrence so the traveling was tricky but we got back and forth safe and sound.

The Tang Temple (I’m pretty sure they think I’m crazy!”)
Our one excursion today was the Tang Temple, a temple that was originally constructed around 650 BC, yep, pretty much the oldest building I’ve ever been in. The tour was pretty good, dampened by the weather, but still pretty amazing. We have lots of pic’s  and video, which we will have to show when we get home.

As per the first paragraph, the weather is not what we expected, not even close. We were expecting temps around 17, not snow for this part of our excursion. This new winter wonderland, combined with our expectations and the fact that we had to pack for 2 locations (1/2 our clothes, the warm ones, are still in Beijing) our preparation in not exactly in tune with our surroundings. Thus our trip to the Tang Temple was not exactly a warm weather journey…to say the least. In order to keep K and Tya warm my jacket had to be sacrificed which left me in short sleeves. Now as “Hearty Canadians” we have all at some time or another worn a short sleeve shirt in 0 degree snowier weather. Well the Chinese, or specifically the people in Nanchung, not so much!! Our guide Mary was greatly concerned with my lack of winter attire and was constantly shuffling me to every warm room within the temple as quickly as possible. Everyone would point, laugh and make some comment in Chinese. One elderly man on our way out looked at me and I’m pretty sure he said “dumb a@#” in Chinese.

Kennah’s a Hit
We have had inquires about how K and Savvy are doing, well both girls are great, adjusting well to the weather (not much needed there) the food, the new addition and the people. Savvy has been great and has fit in great helping all of the other parents with this that and whatever. Her maturity and helpfulness has impressed everyone and we get continuous comments on what a great young woman she is. How is Kennah doing in one of the world’s oldest civilizations? Well she of course shines and is a hit with the Chinese People. They think she is “so pretty” and has “beautiful blue eyes”. Everywhere we go people are drawn to her and while shy at first, she becomes herself and breaks into singing and dancing, which means she is being herself.    

Getting Comfortable
As for Tya, well she seems to be getting more comfortable by the minute. It’s not that she has ever seemed uncomfortable, but today she seems fully relaxed, with 4 poops in little under 12 hours (no signs of tension there)!! While I have been writing this my 4 beautiful ladies have been on the bed and Tya has been giggling the whole time. She has been much more playful today and yesterday began to snuggle, something that everyone loves. Her personality is starting to rapidly emerge with her laugh, raised eye-brows and kicking foot (a sign of either hurry-up with the bottle, I gotta burp, or I wanna go). She crosses her fingers a lot which is either a sign she is hoping someone will come rescue her or she is hoping she gets to stay with these 3 Mohawks and the Irish chick, we think she wants to stay. She has one cute little dimple on her right cheek and a smile that will make you smile.

All of the babies in our group are cute, each with their own unique personality. As a father of two amazing girls I cannot understand how anyone could abandon such wonderful little creatures simply because they are girls. With that said it is unfair to be judgmental as the cultural and socio-economics are different and the reality is the mothers take such actions in the hopes that their children will find a loving family and be given a quality of life they could not. As hard as it is to imagine taking such an action, it is in many ways the ultimate sacrifice a parent can make and their sacrifice has given us an unbelievable gift.

The rest of the day has been fairly relaxed, a welcome change since we arrived. Jen and K spent 2 hours in the pool, some much needed Kennah and mommy time as K has been in need of some focused attention from her mom since we arrived. Such a busy day but Kennah managed to stay up until 7 tonight, but did not make it too 7:01. The day was capped off with a late supper, more play, and hopefully another full night’s sleep.

Trust everything and everyone are well and we miss you all.

  XO by 5

Post #3 From China!

Day 3 IT’S OFFICIAL &…Wal-Mart?

Well first off, the video and pic’s are a wee bit of a challenge to say the least. The Cannon we have for the video taping of the journey is not compatible with our Mac, plus the fact that our e-mail will not let us send messages and combined with the fact that we have to use Hotmail with a max of 25 MB attachment makes getting you all pic’s and video impossible.  All this and we cannot download Skype or access the blog or Facebook means no visuals, sorry about that. Where’s Mitch? Anyone got iChat…and know how it works so they can explain it to me?

Well we are 2 days in with Tya and we had just had our 2nd full night of sleep so we are batting a 100% so lets hope that continues. We went to the passport office today to make it official, I guess? We are now waiting for her passport to be finished on Friday, which will allow us to take Tya home to where she will start her new life as a Canadian Citizen (that part is next week). We had another test at this office and we aced it…mainly because it was the same three questions as the day before. We got our picture taken in front of the red seal…because everyone else did although I still don’t know what it was or what it meant.

After the Passport office we decided to take our celebration to the nearest Wal-Mart, which I can only describe as LOUD.  The Chinese like their shopping loud, busy and bright. We had gone to Wal-Mart to pick up supplies for the babies and when we got there I can honestly say this place had everything and then some. Now I must say that buying things in a country with no English labels is an adventure, you look for things mainly based on color and hopefully, if lucky, recognizable branding.  Your head spins as you are bombarded with sound and lights and products and people and chickens hanging from hooks ready to be purchased. That’s right I said chickens, now before everyone gets grossed out, they were cooked…they just still had the heads on…and smelled…bad. And yes Savvy and I diverted Jen from that whole section. The rest of the store was noise galore, I felt like the Grinch (I know what some of you are thinking so quite), you know the part where he says  “noise, noise, noise” this place was nuts, on every isle there was someone selling something…with a mic… and a speaker. Oh ya, never buy things that you think will taste good, based on the color of the package, as the grape flavor looking package we bought ended up tasting like milk… solid milk, which as you can well imagine, none of us are that fond of!!!

The rest of the day was filled with K swimming in the pool (1 hour) and diner out at a Chinese restaurant…I mean a real Chinese restaurant with Chinese food, not a restaurant in China, get me? Anyway it was excellent, everything was yum I just can’t tell you what we ate as I can’t pronounce or really remember (still jet legged) what they said. Best Chinese food ever, and seeing as how we are in China, that should be a no brainer.  Unfortunately, for the second night in a row Kennah did not make it through dinner, as sleep found her again at 5 o’clock. 

Another hectic day and bed was a welcome sight.

Hope everyone is well and we will touch base soon, technology permitting.

XO by  5

Gotchya Time!

In Jen's words, "I love her so much - from the minute I held her... we all did and said at the same time, she feels like she has always been ours."

Almost Gotchya!

Jen managed to get a couple of videos through for me to post!  Here's number #1... almost Gotchya time...! xo Sheri Lee

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 2 From China!

Hi everyone, this is Carolyn, posting for Jeff, Jen and the girls.  Just want you all to know that the pics and video they tried to send didn't come through.  I begged them to try again, so hopefully we'll get something soon.  I promise to sit by the computer all night and get it on here asap.  They are able to read their comments so keep them coming!!

Day 2 “Gotchya Day”

Okay, so the title kind of gave what today was all about away. But like all good things, you’re going to have to wait for more on that! I have broken today up into sections, if for no other reason than so that I can better remember what happened as it was a busy, eventful and remarkable day.

Our day started out at 4:AM, if I can say one thing about the Chinese is that they like to get an early start on things!! Everyone met in the lobby and loaded on to the bus to head to the airport to fly to our various destinations.  Our little group, lead by Yulin headed to Nanchang, included Cara and Randy, and Marina and her friend and support mechanism Kathy. Everyone was excited, especially Cara, about the day that we would all remember forever. The trip to Nanechung was uneventful and other than the fact that smoking is permitted on the plane, leaves really nothing for the memory, and unfortunately, no noodles to be had.

Guess What?
As we got through the airport we chatted about what we thought was going to happen next as we were a little short on the exact details of the day. The only thing we knew for sure was that by the end of the day, all our families would be plus 1. We met our guide “Mary” a very nice Chinese lady at the airport. Mary would be our pathfinder for the week navigating us through the chaos that would ensue.  It was raining, pouring in Nanchang for the better part of the day but the clouds and the rains could not damper what we were about to experience. On the way to the hotel “Mary” (okay, the reasons I am using quotations is because I do not believe her name is actually Mary, or those of the other Chinese guides we have met, Faye and Vivian, they are actually using their own names, instead using fake names so people like us do not butcher their language…I will stop the quotations now) was running through the day’s schedule and started off by telling us “the hotel is about 40 min away…and your babies are there waiting for you”. Talk about here you go, our surmising and thoughts on what was going to happen, were all thrown out the window. No time to mentally prepare when we get to the hotel, boom here’s your baby!

As you can imaging the anticipation level went through the roof at that point and then!!CRASH!!… no not us, no one worry, just trying to build more drama and suspense, did it work? I like blogging…someone check on Pauline. The bus in front of us (about 250 meters with no one on board) hits the guardrail, spins and stops sideways on the road. So what do we and the other drivers on the road do…well we just drive by and I’m sure our driver yelled “Dumb A@#” as we drove by. A case of too much speed, too sharp a corner and too top heavy a bus me thinks!

The 40-minute ride to the hotel combined with the news that our girls were waiting for us sent our thoughts racing. All these years of waiting, the pictures, the paperwork, and travel were all about to accumulate to what we all wanted in the first place, a new addition to our family. I think it became most real for Kennah, who in the midst of the excitement fell asleep. Although this would impact us all, it would perhaps impact her the most as she would have to “share the spotlight” so to speak. And for someone who shines a pretty big light, K would perhaps have the most adjusting to do.  She has, over the past couple of weeks, as we got closer to coming to China, expressed her thoughts about maybe not coming to get Tya. Know from a psychological perspective, this was a relief, yes a relief, as she was expressing the same feelings any other child would with their family expecting a new arrival.  Nonetheless, it hurts your heart that one of your children may feel in any way displaced or not loved as much because of a new addition.

As we rolled up to the hotel there was a nervous silence and as the doors of the bus opened so to did another chapter of our lives.

Another nice hotel, massive and marble everywhere greeted us and the walk  and the elevator seemed to stretch for a mile. Everyone crammed into the elevator, very little said, smiles a few welling tears and the elevator door opens to the 2nd floor, I step out and quickly….get pulled back in because the babies are on the 3rd, not the 2nd, my bad. Once on the 3rd floor we enter a small meeting room, as usual are the last to enter the room so all we hear are babies crying and new parents trying to comfort them.  Where’s ours? We are looking and there seems to be one short, our Tya. “Mary” (last time I swear) comes to us and leads us behind the door where there is the tiniest, and I mean tiniest little girl I have ever seen bundled in layers upon layers of cloths.

Now I would like to say and give you some detail on Jen’s reaction, but as I said it was a small room and in between trying to see Tya and people walking in front of me I did see Jen’s first reaction, although the seconds later what I did see was a smile reminiscent of the of when she saw Savvy and K for the first time…and of course when she seen me waiting at the alter. Tya, which I think will be typical of her personality kind of looked at us with this “do I know you?” expression on her face. With the recognition that we were indeed the people who came for her and something in Chinese from Mary, the director of Tya’s orphanage handed her to Jen, somehow making the end of one journey and the beginning of another. The director also gave us a book of where she was found and her orphanage, a chain, and some other documents.

Kennah’s Reaction
Given Kennah’s growing concerns about having a new baby (and just waking up), we had planned that when Jen first held Tya, she would at the same time be holding Kennah as a way of comforting her in the new reality of our family. This was a little difficult as we did not expect Tya to be so small (the pic’s we had make her look so much bigger) and her ability to be in Jen’s one arm was difficult. Kennah’s reaction was mixed, in those very first moments she was halfway between a hug of Tya, and moments latter came to me in withdrawal. After a brief hand off we went to our room for our first feeding with only 45 minutes before we had to meet downstairs and off to complete the legal aspects of the adoption. Once in the room, Kennah stepped right into her role of big sister and was the first to hold Tya once we arrived in the room.  She became Miss Helpful, getting Tya’s rattle, her necklace, throwing out her diaper and making faces at her to keep her occupied.  While Tya was feeding K was being her normal self, running and singing, dancing and playing make believe. Since we got Tya Kennah has been nothing but helpful and loving, the makings of a great big sister.

As I had said before, we were a little foggy on the exact details so after the feeding we quickly changed and met in the lobby to head across the street to the provincial office to complete the adoption. Now for those of you who are old enough to remember the game Frogger, where the frog tries to cross the street without getting run over by drivers who either do not see the frog or care about the frog, this was pretty much our experience trying to cross the 6 lanes of traffic between the hotel and the office building. The Chinese, much like the Argentinians and Quebecers are nuts.  They do not so much stop for you as drive around you, while going as fast as they can.  

Where Are They?
Once we made it all safe and sound to the office building we went up 26 floors to the, well to be honest I really don’t know what the place was called other than the adoption place. This place was a zoo, all families from different agencies were there going through this back and forth process of taking pics, signing papers, and paying money to complete the adoption.  Know we had planned well, had all the necessary documents in the file folder, and even went away for a night to complete the paper work. Well then they asked us for our passport pictures…and we didn’t have them! So where were they, well they were on the bed in the hotel, so off I go back across the frogger road to get the pics. Back over to the adoption office (I’m doing really  well at frogger, not dead yet) to hand over the passport pic’s and ready to complete the process.

Skill Test
For those of you who know me, I’m not, and have never been a studious person but I do like to be prepared, especially for an interview.  So when we were at the adoption office and were told Jen and I had to do an interview, well lets just say I had more questions about what this interview was and what we could do to prepare in the 30 seconds before we walked trough the door. Well it ended up being a breeze really, as the questions were easy:

            Q: What is your occupations(s)?
            A: Teacher & Business Consultant
            Q: Will you ever abuse the baby?
            A: NO!
            Q: What are your plans for her education?
            A: College, university or whatever she wants (woohoo for democratic                              freedom) or whatever she wants!
Easiest Test Ever!

Legal But Not Yet Official.
With everything completed the adoption was made legal, but not yet official, that's day 3. Apparently the Chinese like to drag things out. Nonetheless Tya was ours, legally, the passport on day 3 makes it official… apparently.

Bath Time
The rest of the day was made of somewhat regular family like, understanding we are still out of whack with the time zone change and end up running on fumes for the better part of the evening. Kennah and I went to the pool before supper, which pretty much spelled the end for K as she passed out, dead to the world before she touched even one fry, the work of a big sister ‘tis tiring! With K sleeping on the bed Jen, Savvy and I gave Tya her first official Brant bath before bed. Savvy as always was a great example of what a big sister should be, helping out in all capacity’s including taking pic’s, video and watch both her sisters while Jen and I took care of business. She has also been the socialite, getting to know the other families and helping out everywhere.

Tya’s Test Part 1
Tya applied her first test, of which we are sure there will be many more, while trying to put her down for the night.  Strike 1….strike 2…strike 3..strike 4, nothing.  Everytime we put her down, she cried!! Was this a sign of a long night? Was she going to cry all night, forever? Not sure, this was our first night remember. On the 5th try we let her cry for about 30 seconds and the boom, off to lala land she went and slept from 8:30 to 5:45 this morning, we really want that to happen. It was interesting because in the report from the orphanage they did say “she has a habit… it is that she likes to cry really hard and long before she has a deep sleep.”

Sorry for being long winded but it was an eventful day and we are now family of 5
( Party of Five). Hope everyone back home is well and there is no snow until we are safe on Canadian soil. We are hoping the video and pic’s work so that you get to see and feel what our day was like.

Till tomorrow,
XO…by 5

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Post #1 from China

Day 1 Travel Day (Written by Jeff)

Well, our day started out like most others, you know, up at 3:00 AM and out of the house by 4 to start the days' activities. For those of you who know us and our general lack of ability to get anywhere on time, you know this is a far cry from our regular routine or just a regular day. We did, on this day anyway, manage to get to the Ch'town airport 10 min ahead of the time you are supposed to arrive to catch a flight.  There were no complaints despite the early morning and cold temperature, perhaps an indication of our desire to start the journey to get the newest addition of our family. Our trip to Ch'town was uneventful, save the car in the ditch that we passed on the way and our nagging social conscience that made us quickly go back to make sure there was indeed no one in the car, which there wasn't, so we were quickly on our way back to Ch'town.

When we arrived at the airport we were unfortunatly greeted by a great big red "Cancelled" bar across our flight number. Apparently there were some mechanical problems with the plane and the flight was cancelled. Now some may look at this as a bad thing, we however decided that it was much better to get on a plane that was actually working than one that was not, and yes the look of panic instantly shot across Jen's face (she really, really wanted to get things going) when she saw the red cancelled mark. With that said, a quick call to Air Canada and bing-bang-boom the helpful staff at both the call center and the gate had us on a flight at 7:15 to start our trip. Yes, for those of you who have done any level of travelling at all, I did say helpful staff and Air Canada in the same sentence, they were truly great, our first Christmas miracle of the season. A big shout out to Sheri lee McKenna who showed up at the airport to see us off (she was there at like 5 AM) and having her there helped calm Jen down given the unexpected kick-off to our trip.

One extra flight and 3 planes later we landed in "The Big Smoke" for what would prove the longest part of our travel day. Our flight to Beijing was packed and this plane was massive so there were lots of people eager to get on and get going. The flight itself was thankfully uneventful, smooth sailing all the way with only minor turbulence and bad food, except the noodles we had for either lunch or supper, or mid morning snack, I can't really recall given my head is all messed up from the time change. With that said, by far the best airplane food I have ever had!! With all things considered, getting up so early, on and off planes, the confined spaces, Kennah travelled exceptionally well and slept approx. 7 hours...which we are paying for this morning as she was up at 2...AM...Beijing time...which is really the only reason I am writing the blog this early! Savvy was a great big sister and huge help; we are truly blessed to have 2 great girls (soon to be 3). As I said, the trip went relatively smooth, some bad food and bad movies (the Expendables with Sly Stallone) mixed with some good food (the noodles) and good movies (Avatar and Diner for Smucks, I love that movie) but most important we arrived safe and sound and no Pauline, we did not lose Kennah or Savvy, not even twice lol.

I’d like to give you some descriptors as to what China looked like, unfortunately is was dark (so that will have to do as my description) when we arrived and given our general state of diminished capacity after such a long trip (I felt intoxicated), all I can say is the airport is massive and the hotel is nice.

Our first full day in China is the one we have all been waiting for as we get to meet Tya Li Hui Brant for the first time. The anticipation on our side is great, she however, as she is only 6 mths is probably going to give us the look she gave in one of her first pics, that look of "who are you people and what do you want?" Well we have waited for a long time and have travel a great distance to meet you Miss Tya Li Hui Brant and your life will never be the same...nor ours. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

wow... the count down is on!

I am feeling like I am almost ready... I have family staying at my house the whole time we are gone, sleeping over every night, cleaning my house and putting up my tree... I love living beside my parents!!!  I will do my Christmas shopping in China... Bob suggested it and he convinced me that I will find everything I need there.  I can go to a Toy Emporium, the Dirt Market... and I can find everything I need. So all I have to do is pack... sounds easy but I have about ten different lists and a husband who insists that we travel light.  I am such a you can imagine how much worrying I am doing about everything. the compute Jeff is home!

Friday, December 03, 2010


At approximately 5 months old.... I am like the typically super proud Mama.... please feel free to leave me a comment about how cute she is ... We are sooooo lucky!!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I got new photos today! I am sooooo excited! I will post soon, I tried to password protect but I had a failed attempt, so I will have to try again this weekend. I was so surprised and excited to get these new photos and she is amazing! Stay tuned, photos Friday when I get my computer back!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

15 days!

That is all... and so much to do before then... and one month 'til Christmas... the countdowns are on!
Savannah turns 16 in 26 days! I have a birthday 5 days before we leave. My brother's birthday is 5 days later
I wanted to post a picture of some red thread (well, string) my sister found on her doorstep, but I could not download it from my phone. It was all neatly wrapped and long. I was so touched when she sent that to me. Our long red thread is getting shorter and pulling us closer to Tya! I can just feel it pulling on my heart.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I have been thinking for awhile now that the number 5 seems to have some special meaning for me on this Journey... My dear friends Carolyn and Crystal made me reflect on this more...and I am sure I am missing some... (so if you think of another please send a message and I will add it to our list :))

We started the process in 2005
We waited 5 years
Our Log in date is May, the 5th month of the year
Tya was born June 5
My birthday is December 5
Tya will be the 5th member of our Brant family...

* OH YES!!!! My little brother just reminded me...Tya is 5 months old right now!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

21 more sleeps!!!

Just 21 more sleeps and so much to do!
We have completed passport visa paperwork and sent it off. Crazy story about finally getting our passports done, but bottom line is they are done.
I am slowly checking things off my list of packing supplies that I am collecting more and more of.
I have bought Christmas presents for Kennah and Savannah's teachers. I am sorting through the closet of clothes and seperating clothes that fit Kennah and now clothes for Tya... I emptied one of Kennah's drawers for Tya...Jeff is fixing the floor in the bedroom...and we found a new crib for Tya that we pick up tomorrow and make Kennah's bed into a "big girl" bed...
This morning... for the first time we heard Kennah express some trepidation over Tya coming..." I ahhh, I ummm, I mumble mumble... I am not...." Jeff picked her up and held her close and asked her to tell him what she said... and she said she did not know if she wanted to tell him... he said, "you can tell daddy anything."... she said, "I am not sure I want Tya to come now." My poor baby girl. Jeff gave her tons of hugs and held her close and reassured her of our love and her place in our family...then I held her and gave her kisses all over her sweet face...I read her stories " You are all my favourites." and " I love you the Purplest" ... but I know it will just take time and she will see our heart just grows to include them all... and the love never changes...I love them all the most...Savannah, Kennah and Tya. I remember thinking I could never love another person as much as I loved Savannah... and then when we had Kennah, I knew the love does not change or go away, you just love another person with that equal and amazing intensity that there is nothing in the world like... the love you have for each of your children.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Have not password protected yet as I want to make sure that Mitch can read this while we are gone. I am so excited, nervous, overwhelmed and anxious. What a mixture of emotions...yes, emotional would sum this all up for sure. We have confirmation for travel to China in December and we will be home just before Christmas with Tya! We are flying into Beijing and the next day going to Nanchang, Jiangxi. Then formal adoption proceedings the next day and back to Beijing 3 days later where we stay for 6 days. We will have excursions, submit paperwork, receive Tya's documents from the embassy and return! Whirlwind!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I am switching to password protected so if you would like to be included and follow along on my journey message me.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Tya is 5 months old today!

Kisses on the wind!

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

--- Unknown

Spicy Girls :0)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

some notes....

ok some final thoughts (for tonight)
I love her sweet face, her dark eyes, and her little expressions...note the second picture with the eyebrow questioning look...she reminds me of Jeff. I think she will fit right in with our lil family.

She is in Yugan County Social Welfare Institute, Jiangxi.

Her name.... Li: Beautiful
Hui: Intelligent/wisdom
Yue: Exceed - Last name given as their county used to be called Ganyue so Yue for her last name.